This Year in Japanese

No Time to Waste: “Taipa” Chosen as One of Japan’s Words of 2022

Language Society

Taipa, an abbreviation of “time performance,” was selected by dictionary publisher Sanseidō as its word of the year for 2022, reflecting young people’s desire not to waste a second.

Get to the Chorus!

The word kosupa, an abbreviated form of “cost performance” meaning “value for money,” has become a standard part of the Japanese language. Dictionary publisher Sanseidō chose a variation on this theme, taipa, or “time performance,” as its word of the year for 2022.

Taipa is used for talking about efficient use of time, and is particularly associated with the members of Generation Z, born roughly between 1995 and 2010. In search of optimum “time performance,” they might watch films and drama at double speed or via recut versions that only show major plot points, and skip to the catchy parts of songs.

For these zoomers, learning to make the best use of their time is the only way to save themselves from drowning in an ocean of online content and to keep up with friends’ conversations.

The dictionary editor judges were also impressed by the extreme abbreviation of pafōmansu (performance) to simply pa; despite this brevity, taipa has caught on, assisted by the familiarity that kosupa has gained. One editor commented that there has not been such a bold shortening since baseball’s Pacific League became the “Pa League” (Pa rīgu).

Shōgakukan, another Japanese publisher, picked Kīu as its word of the year, the Japanese equivalent of the spelling Kyiv for the capital of Ukraine that follows the Ukrainian rendering more closely than the formerly standard Kiefu (Kiev).

Sanseidō’s Top 10 New Words of the Year for 2022

  1. タイパTaipa. An abbreviated version of taimu pafōmansu (time performance), signifying the level of satisfaction gained compared with the time spent. It is possible to use the phrase taipa ga ii, for example, to describe “good time performance” or an effective use of time.
  2. 構文Kōbun. A word for the structure of a sentence or grammatical construction, which by extension refers to a style of writing among a particular group. Notably, ojisan kōbun is said to be a style employed by middle-aged men (ojisan) when messaging, which is scattered with emoji and overfamiliar expressions.
  3. きまずKimazu. A shortened version of the adjective kimazui (awkward) used as an exclamation. When things get extremely awkward, speakers can elevate this term to its “final form,” kimazetto (derived from kima-Z).
  4. メタバースMetabāsu. The Metaverse, an immersive virtual-reality version of the internet that has been making global headlines, was also the subject of much discussion in Japan in 2022.
  5. 〇〇くない — __kunai. The suffix kunai is typically used to make i adjectives negative— for example samui (cold) becomes samukunai (not cold). However, recently kunai is being substituted for janai, a verbal phrase with wider application, whether as part of a sentence or in a tag question.
  6. ガクチカGakuchika. An abbreviation for the thorny question that recruiters in Japan are almost certain to ask jobhunters about where they particularly focused their efforts (chikara o ireru) during their student days (gakusei jidai).
  7. 一生Isshō. Literally “a lifetime,” this has been adapted to mean simply “a long time” or “ages,” such as when describing taking a lengthy nap.
  8. 酷暑日Kokushobi. The Japan Weather Association began using this term in 2022, which could be translated as “severe heat day,” for days when the temperature rises above 40° centigrade. With global warming, there was a need to add to the list of established words like mōshobi (猛暑日), an “extreme heat day” when the mercury climbs above 35°, and manatsubi (真夏日), a “midsummer day” when it tops 30°. Kokushobi is yet to be officially adopted by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
  9. 闇落ちYamiochi. A literal “fall into darkness,” representing the downward moral journey of a formerly upstanding member of society who turns to the dark side.
  10. リスキリングRisukiringu. This loanword, taken from “reskilling” in English, caught on in Japan in 2022, whether for people seeking a totally new job or simply adding strings to their bow. Along with several other terms on this list, it was also included in this year’s candidates for the Word of the Year.

Shōgakukan’s Top New Words of the Year for 2022

キーウKīu [Winner]. A rendering of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv that represents the Ukrainian name, rather than the Russian Kiev (Kiefu in Japanese).

国葬儀Kokusōgi [Runner-up]. The decision to hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Abe Shinzō after he was killed in July led to considerable debate. The government’s use of the word kokusōgi rather than the more common kokusō seemed to suggest that the ceremony was somehow different from earlier occasions.

メタバースMetabāsu [Runner-up] Shōgakukan also saw the imagined virtual space as one of the key words to become established in 2022.

(Originally published in Japanese on November 30, 2022. Banner photo: Representatives from the dictionary publisher Sanseidō announce its words of the year on November 30, 2022. © Sanseidō.)

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